At RPI, learning can occur outside of the classroom

The spirit of RPI was alive this past Saturday as a sea of red scarves and red shirts looked over the rink in the center of the Houston Field House. The results of Big Red Freakout! are best forgotten, but the excitement leading up to the game are worthy memories. The Red Army had its tailgate, while Puckman was available for photos, and fans were bedecked in scarves handed out by RPI’s Club Hockey and the Rensselaer Union’s Executive Board.

The prelude to the night had much of that energy we saw at the Winter Carnival, and is something that I would encourage the student body to find more of throughout the year. I have thus far neglected to properly and formally thank the students who organized that event, and made it a place of campus pride, despite the bitter cold.

Andrew Stevens ’12 and Emma Furlano ’10 spearheaded the carnival from the student side, and deserve a lot of thanks for pulling off the event, and literally pulling the event out of the mud after the proceedings of the previous year. I’d also like to recognize the great support from our Rensselaer Union administration in Cameron McLean, Melissa Termine-Goetz, and Erika Rau Lawson for their great support and planning.

All in all, this year’s Winter Carnival laid the groundwork for what should become a tradition, and an exceptional campus wide event supported by the Union, Office of Student Life, and the President’s Office.

At a meeting earlier this semester, the Executive Board approved funding for the restoration of numerous pianos: two pianos in the Union, eight in West Hall, one each in Academy Hall and the Playhouse, and an as yet unutilized Steinway donated from the estate of the late Professor Emeritus Hendrick Van Ness.

This past week, President Shirley Ann Jackson showed her support for music and the pianos under the Union’s purview, offering to take the vast majority of costs under the budget of the President’s Office. This will allow us to get the entire piano fleet into respectable order by the end of the summer, and have high quality rehearsal and performance spaces across campus.

This support is a much appreciated example of the president and the Institute’s commitment to making the experience of a RPI student one which reaches beyond the classroom, and is indeed about the growth of our students. As I have discussed previously, while we have great academic and research opportunities, there is little reason to come to an institute like Rensselaer if the only learning that occurs is in the classroom.

As always, I encourage everybody to take advantage of the numerous opportunities offered around campus. This weekend features wing tasting in the McNeil Room, performances in the Playhouse, and basketball and hockey competitions. Get out and have a good time with your colleagues as you progress through your time here at RPI. It will undoubtedly pass more quickly than you think.